Westwood confirms he'll take break to heal leg, will still become No. 1

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Lee Westwood's aching calf felt worse on Sunday than it had all week, and walking 18 holes at St. Andrews didn't help.
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PA Sport

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Lee Westwood has decided not to play again this month because of his nagging leg injury -- and as a result he will take the world No. 1 spot away from Tiger Woods on Oct. 31.

Westwood had a chance to end Woods' five-year reign on Sunday with a top-two finish in the Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, but managed only 11th place.

If he had gone to Vilamoura to defend his Portugal Masters title this coming week, he would have had to finish no worse than third to take over the No. 1 spot.

But the fact that he has pulled out of the event and Woods is not schedueled to be back in action until the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Nov. 4-7 means they will swap places before then.

Although he had wanted to achieve the top spot on the course, Westwood, who helped Europe win back the Ryder Cup straight after a six-week lay-off, said he wold accept the top ranking any way he could get it.

"I've had a great year until getting injured. Look at all the world ranking points I've won -- I was leading that by a mile before my injury,” he said. "But I'm not allowing myself to think about it until it happens. It's something I've always dreamt of and it would be great if it happened."

The only way Woods could hang onto his position would be to enter another tournament in the next couple of weeks. But since he has already retaken the No. 1 spot from Ernie Els, Greg Norman, David Duval and Vijay Singh during his career, trying to grab it back off Westwood might prove an added spur for him on his return.

Westwood, who almost pulled out on Thursday after aggravating his problem walking down a steep slope, was suffering again from the moment he got out of bed on Sunday. He teed off in the final round of the Dunhill Links tied for fifth, but had to wait until the eighth hole for his first birdie and had four bogeys in his last eight for a 73.

"I woke up and it was hurting more than the other days, so all in all I don't suppose 7 under is too bad," he said. "I haven't had a chance to get it healed. I tried my hardest to get back to the Ryder Cup fully fit and got to 80 percent, which I thought was good enough with the adrenaline.

"But that was a tough week and this is not an easy one -- six-hour rounds and only two days off between finishing the Ryder Cup and starting here,” he explained. "It's just got progressively more agitated and achy as the week's gone on.

"I haven't been able to put in proper practice sessions since before June and you don't expect to maintain the same level and improve if you don't practice,” he said. "You won't see me coming back until I can practice fully and do myself justice out here."

He hopes that will be alongside Woods in China, but he might delay it for another three weeks and his defense of the Dubai World Championship, the final event of the European Tour’s 2010 seaso